June 3, 2011
Lobo Baseball - NCAA Tempe Regional
Friday: No. 1 seed Arizona State 4, No. 4 Lobos 2; No. 3 Charlotte 3, No. 2 Arkansas 2
Saturday: 3 p.m. (MT) Lobos vs. Arkansas; 8 p.m. (MT) ASU vs. Charlotte
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was an ending marked with cruelty for a gutsy Lobo team that played Arizona State toe-to-toe for 25 outs and eight-plus innings.
A walk-off, three-run homer off the bat of Arizona State's Joey DeMichele put the first wrinkle in New Mexico's amazing postseason run. UNM's 4-2 loss Friday night in the NCAA Tempe Regional drops the Lobos into the losers' bracket.
But you can't say the Lobos weren't amazing once again as the mighty Sun Devils, the No. 1 seed in the Tempe Region, had to scratch out their home-field win in the bottom of the ninth innings after entering that frame down 2-1.
The Lobos will play Arkansas at 3 p.m. (MT) on Saturday trying to avoid a season's end. The loser is history. The winner will play the Arizona State/Charlotte loser at 2 p.m. (MT) on Sunday.
It was a game of almosts for the Lobos as they pushed the Sun Devils up against the wall and forced ASU to come up with some last-inning heroics. Give ASU credit. The Sun Devils did it.
The hero for the Lobos up until the last inning was starter Rudy Jaramillo, who left the field to a warm ovation from the pro-ASU crowd. Jaramillo chilled the ASU bats for eight innings before giving up the mound to Gera Sanchez in the ninth inning with a runner on first.
Jaramillo left the game with four strikeouts and one walk while holding the potent ASU lineup to four hits and a single run.
There was much drama in the final frame after Sanchez took over the mound. Johnny Ruettiger was the Sun Devil on first after singling off Jaramillo. ASU's Deven Marrero dropped a nice bunt down first base line, but was called out for runner's interference. That brought Ruettiger back to first base and sent the ASU manager to the locker room after being ejected for arguing.
Sanchez then walked Riccio Torres. Ruettiger and Torres each advanced a base on a wild pitch by Sanchez. They were standing on second and third when DeMichele launched his walk-off over the right field wall.
It was a heart wrenching loss for the Lobos, but the game marked the fifth straight game in which the Lobos played outstanding baseball. This time the magical ending went the other way.
The Lobos appeared to be on the verge of another shocker as Jaramillo frustrated the Sun Devils for eight innings and UNM came up with some clutch hits to produce a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth.
UNM's Ben Woodchick opened the frame with a single. He was pushed to third by DJ Peterson's 32nd double of the season, which tied him for the Mountain West Conference single-season mark in that extra-base category. Campbell then stroked a sharp single that scored Woodchick and Peterson.
A double by DeMichele pushed across Marrero in the seventh scoring the lone run ASU took into the ninth inning. DeMichele was the Lobo killer on this night, going 2-of-4 with four RBIs and a run scored.
The game was highlighted by outstanding pitching from both starters. ASU's Brady Rodgers went eight innings allowing two runs. He struck out 10 Lobos and gave up only two walks.
Charlotte, the No. 3 seed, advanced Friday with a mild, 3-2 upset over No. 2 Arkansas. Charlotte's Corbin Shive hit a two-run homer in Charlotte's three-run second inning and Andrew Smith limited Arkansas to a run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings to help the 49ers beat the Razorbacks.
Charlotte (43-14) is the Atlantic 10 champion. The Lobos advanced to Tempe as the MWC tourney champion. UNM won that crown with a 4-2 win over TCU. UNM is now 20-40 on the season.